Best Disk Imaging Software to Backup Your Entire Hard Drive

Opened hard drive diskDisk imaging software can be used to make a perfect clone of your hard drive, either for backup or migration purposes.  You’ll never worry about hard drive failure again, knowing you can restore your system to the exact state it was in when the backup was made.

To restore disk images, you’ll want to create a boot DVD (or other media) so you can run the software outside of Windows.  Disk imaging software comes with built-in utilities to do this, so it’s fairly easy.  Plus, you only need to do it once.

Features to look for include compression, encryption, and the ability to do incremental backups.  Incremental backups are important, since full disk images take up a lot of space!

Anyways, here’s a list of my favorite free and paid disk imaging programs.

1. Acronis True Image 2015

Price: $49.99

Acronis True Image is the gold standard when it comes to disk imaging software.  For over 10 years, Acronis has been producing powerful, easy to use backup software for home and business users.

Everything about True Image is easy to use, and disk image backups can be created in just a couple clicks.

True Image 2015 main screen

Disk images can be created as full, incremental, or differential type backups.  Incremental is the default, which will save the most amount of space.  You can customize many options, from compression and encryption, to backup splitting and email notifications.  File and folder backups are supported, as well.

Other features include image mounting, clone disk, Acronis Secure Zone (a secure partition on your hard drive), and file synchronization.  File synchronization has been improved in the 2015 version, and True Image doesn’t require the cloud to sync files between computers.

My favorite thing about True Image is that it’s very easy to use.  Backups can be created by novice computer users, and restored just as easily.  There’s nothing complicated about the software, and it just plain works.

On the downside, there’s no free tech support.  Other than that, I can’t find anything wrong with True Image.

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2. Paragon Backup & Recovery

Price: $39.95

Paragon Backup & Recovery can backup complete hard drives, single partitions, and files and folders as well.

Paragon Software Group is well known for their drive management tools, including disk imaging software.  They’ve been in business for 20 years now, so you know you’re getting a quality product.

The Smart Backup Wizard will guide you through the creation of disk images (and other types of backups), so there’s no confusion about how everything works.  You can backup your disk image to a variety of locations including USB drives, network drives, and even offsite using FTP and SFTP.  Scheduling, compression, and encryption are also supported.

Paragon Backup & Recovery Home

As far as recovering data, you can restore your system to entirely different hardware and boot it immediately.

Extra features include “Backup Capsules,” which are secure partitions on your hard drive where you can store backups.  It can only be seen by Paragon Backup & Recovery, so it’s safe from viruses and other malware that could affect your PC.  There’s a Migration tool that can copy your OS to new hardware.  The “Cyclic Backup” feature automatically manages your backups for you.  Just specify a maximum number of backups, or a maximum amount of space to use for backups, and it does the rest.

Free email support is included for 30 days, although after that you’ll have to pay.

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3. Retrospect

Price: $119

Retrospect is a professional disk imaging and backup utility.  The software used to be owned by storage giant EMC, but is now in the hands of a private company (Retrospect, Inc).

The price might seem a bit high, but it includes licenses for 5 computers.  It’s definitely one of the more advanced programs I’ve used, however the Backup Wizard is easy to follow.

Retrospect Professional backup wizard

Retrospect supports block-level deduplication, which saves space by only backing up the parts of files that have changed.  It’s also one of the few backup programs that supports Mac.  So if you’re looking for a Time Machine alternative, Retrospect is a solid choice.

Free email support is included, and phone support is free for 45 days after your purchase.

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4. EaseUS Todo Backup Free

Price: Free

EaseUS Todo Backup Free is probably the most popular free disk imaging software.  It claims to have over 6 million users, and it has almost 3 million downloads on CNET alone.

It can backup hard drives, partitions, and files and folders.  It supports incremental backups, compression, email notifications, and many other features as well.  It even has a disk cloning tool to migrate to a new hard drive.

EaseUS Todo Free main screen

On the downside, there’s no encryption feature for your backups, and tech support is only available for EaseUS’s paid software.

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5. Handy Backup Professional

Price: $99

Handy Backup comes in several versions, but only the professional edition lets you create full disk images.  It’s good for file and folder backups too.  A variety of backup types are supported, including full, incremental, differential, and mirroring.  Handy Backup can use ZIP compression and encryption to store your backups.

Handy Backup main screen

Handy Backup can also be used to clone your hard drive to a new computer, or to multiple computers.

Free technical support is provided for all Novosoft software.

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6. AOMEI Backupper Standard

Price: Free

AOMEI Backupper is a relatively new program, but it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular backup utilities on the market.  It’s loaded with features that make backing up a breeze.  Disk image backups can be created with just a couple clicks, and restoring these backups is easy as well.

The best part is it’s completely free.

AOMEI Backupper main screen

The software is constantly being improved, too.  I just received an email from AOMEI the other day letting me know of new features being added.  The company really listens to its users!

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7. Acronis Backup

Price: $89 – $999

Acronis Backup (formerly known as Acronis Backup & Recovery) is the software to get for disk image backups in a business environment.

Backup & Recovery main screen

Acronis Backup is among the most powerful disk imaging software on the market.  It includes all the features of Acronis True Image, plus it can backup servers, provides for remote monitoring from a console, and supports more advanced backup schemes.

Despite all the advanced features, it’s remarkably easy to use.  The interface is intuitive, and it doesn’t take a computer genius to setup.  It comes in several editions, depending on what you’re backing up.  The PC edition is the lowest priced one, at $89.  For Windows servers, Linux servers, and VMware virtual machines, you can expect to pay up to $999.

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8. NTI Backup Now EZ

Price: $30

Backup Now EZ is an easy to use disk imaging program from NTI Corporation.  In addition to being able to backup files and folders, it has a “Complete System Backup” feature for your entire hard drive.

NTI Backup Now EZ Main screen

It supports a variety of backup destinations, such as internal and external hard drives, NAS, and network drives.  Incremental backups are supported for both disk image type backups and file/folder backups.

As far as restoring, you can create boot media on a USB hard drive, flash drive, or more traditional CD/DVD.

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9. Macrium Reflect Standard

Price: $44.99

Macrium Reflect is yet another full disk imaging program.  It can backup all local disks on a computer, backup only the partitions required to restore Windows, or create a file and folder backup.  Most users will be interested in backing up their Windows partition, I imagine.

Macrium Reflect main screen

You can choose Windows PE or Linux as the rescue environment.  They both do the same thing – let you boot into Macrium to restore your computer in the event of system failure.  You can also perform other hard drive related tasks, as well.  For instance, there’s an option to fix Windows boot errors.

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10. NovaBACKUP Professional

Price: $49.95

NovaBACKUP was voted best PC backup software by  It has just about every feature you could want, including full disk imaging, encryption, compression, and scheduling.

I haven’t tested the latest version (v16), but I did review version 15 and was impressed with the improvements they’ve made.  Nov. 2014 update: I tested the latest version of NovaBACKUP, and I found it to be buggy so I don’t recommend it.

NovaBACKUP main screen


Disk images can be saved to internal and external hard drives, network shares, Blu-ray discs, and even cloud storage (although the cloud storage is grossly overpriced).

It features machine independent restore, which lets you recover to completely different hardware such as a new motherboard.

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11. NTI Backup Now 5 Advanced

Price: $69.99

NTI Backup Now 5 Advanced has a few more features than the EZ edition.  Specifically, it can do differential backups, backup to optical media and FTP servers, and supports email notifications.  Personally though, I would just get the EZ edition and save $40.  I don’t think the extras justify the price jump.

NTI Backup Now: Drive-based backup Get it at

12. ShadowProtect Desktop

Price: $89.95

ShadowProtect is fairly advanced and I wouldn’t recommend it for novice users, but it offers a lot of features ideal for business environments.  The remote management feature lets you manage desktop clients from a central computer.  ShadowProtect is also able to continually take disk image backups, ensuring you never lose more than a few minutes of data.

The ShadowProtect main menu

Features include converting disk image files into .VHD and .VMDK formats, hardware independent and bare metal restores, and migration tools.  You can even boot a disk image as a virtual machine in VirtualBox, to test if the system would restore properly.

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13. Paragon Backup & Recovery Free

Price: Free

Paragon Backup & Recovery Free is the free version of Paragon’s disk imaging software.  The free version can’t do incremental backups, so backups will take up a lot more space.  You also can’t backup files or folders; it can only create disk images.

Paragon Backup & Recovery Free Tech support is free, but Paragon gives priority to paid customers.  Overall, it’s a good utility for simple disk imaging operations.

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14. Veeam Endpoint Backup Free

Price: Free

Veeam Endpoint Backup Free is a fairly simple disk imaging utility. It features a modern, lightweight interface that shows you how much space your backups are taking up.

Veeam Endpoint Backup main screen

There are three types of backups:

  • Entire computer
  • Volume level backup
  • File level backup

Entire computer is the recommended one. A volume level backups is the same as entire computer, but it excludes deleted files, temporary files, and page files. Veeam supports incremental backups, which only copy changes to files since the last backup.

You can store backups on local storage or network locations. Backup jobs can be scheduled to run daily or on certain days. They can also be run at events such as when the computer is locked. One thing I really liked is that interrupted backups can be run when the computer is powered on.

It also supports email notifications.

You’ll need to sign up for an account with Veeam to download the software, but it’s free to use.

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15. AX64 Time Machine

Price: $39.95

AX64 Time Machine, also known as Flashback, is disk imaging software that can rollback system changes. Backups are scheduled to run hourly, with incremental backups that only copy changes since the last backup.

AX64 Time Machine

Disk images can be mounted to view files in File Explorer. They can also be exported to other formats (such as Microsoft VHD and VMWare VMDK), although the software is clear they won’t be bootable, unfortunately.

Disk images can be restored within the software, or via bootable media created in AX64. A computer reboot is required either way.

What I liked about Time Machine is that when you browse to recover data, it only shows the changed files. This makes finding files to recover a lot easier.

My only complaint is that there doesn’t seem to be any way to change the backup schedule from once every hour, at least with the trial version.

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More Comparisons

Want to compare each of these programs side-by-side?

Check out my backup software comparison page.  Select “Full Disk Image” from the drop-down filters, and you’ll be able to compare features for all the software listed here.

Your Turn

What disk imaging software do you use?  Please share in the comments section below.

April 2016: Added Veeam Endpoint and AX64 Time Machine

Geoff Akerlund

Geoff Akerlund

Geoff Akerlund is the founder and editor-in-chief of He is a cloud fanatic and regularly reviews online backup services. He believes backups should be easy, affordable, and automatic.

Geoff Akerlund


Reviews and ratings of the most popular backup solutions

@FabacusSuite Just noticed your tweet! I’m not aware of any cloud storage needs specific to manufacturing. I’m open to insight/suggestions. – 3 weeks ago

  • Geoff Rules

    Great work@! Thanks.

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  • Rodin Lo

    Thanks for this post! I personally like AOMEI Backupper, it’s completely free and is easy to use. It helps me to clone my whole disk. The others listed here are also great.

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  • Waking up

    I needed to clone my old drive and transfer to a new drive. It was very easy to use and worked as advertised. And you can’t beat “free”. Good tool!

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  • John H

    I bought NovaBACKUP due to good marks on features on a couple of review lists, and I, too, found it to be extremely buggy. Unusably so. On two separate Windows installations.

    I had multiple installation failures, massive problems with file permission management, and continued backup failures. I received zero responses to my attempts to contact support – the product should really be considered a scam. DO NOT BUY.

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    • Steve Seyler

      I have to agree, I have a bad sector that just STOPS the entire image process, but other software like Norton Ghost 15 simply skips the bad sector. REALLY FRUSTRATING !!

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    • Formerly Known as Pnyx

      I’ve used Nova before and I concur. It’s pure garbage.

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  • juan

    Hi. Which of them can help me to swap the content of 2 disks with different sizes (but with enough free space)?

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    • Can you tell me more about your setup? The easiest way is to back up both disks to a 3rd hard drive, then restore the backup of disk 1 to disk 2, and the backup of disk 2 to disk 1. Any of the software here can do this.

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      • juan

        disk1 has Windows 7.
        disk2 has 2 partitions: Windows 10 and Ubuntu.

        But I don’t need to preserve Ubuntu.
        I could also get an old HDD to work as intermediate to transfer anything.
        Do all applications in your review allow to save the image as file on a third file for later “burning” it to a disk?

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        • Yes they do! Using the old HDD as an intermediate would work perfectly in that situation.

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          • juan

            I’m afraid Windows won’t boot again. One of them uses my company’s official Windows and software and I wouldn’t like to tell them I need to reinstall the OS.

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          • I’m sorry to hear that, Juan. Let me know if you get it figured out or if there’s anything I can do to help.

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  • Igor Grešovnik

    Thanks for a very useful post. I used AOMEI backupper the most, I found it reliable and with very well written and extensive documentation.
    In conjunction with backup software, it is sometimes useful to have suitable bootable media prepared (e.g. for system troubleshooting and restoring disk on broken systems):

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    • Good advice, Igor. Nice guide as well!

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